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iPhone Int’l Calling Options – AT&T, Packet8, TruPhone

Canada Mexico UK Japan China
land or cell land cell land cell land cell land cell
AT&T LD, no plan 0.30 0.50 0.65 1.50 1.70 3.50 3.64 3.50 3.52
AT&T LD, with plan 0.20 0.10 0.25 0.08 0.28 0.24 0.10 0.15 0.18
AT&T Roaming, no plan 0.80 1.00 1.00 2.30 2.30
AT&T Roaming, with plan 0.60 0.60 1.30 1.70 2.00
AT&T monthly fee $4 $5 $4 + $6 $4 + $6 $4 + $6
Truphone 0.06 / 0.015* 0.20 0.50 0.06 0.30 0.06 0.30 0.06 0.06
Packet 8 0.015 0.03 0.17 0.03 0.15 0.04 0.16 0.01 0.01

* $15/mo for a 1000 min block @ 15¢, use it that month or lose it…

Packet8 advantages

  • call anywhere you have cell coverage
  • consistently low international rates

Packet8 Disadvantages

  • web app is awkward and slow (it has lost track of my registration
    multiple times, forcing me to reissue the login URL from another
    computer)
  • no way to edit the web-based address book except from the iPhone web
    browser (though you can bring up iphone.packet8.net in OmniWeb if you change the browser type…)
  • can’t initiate a call from WiFi

TruPhone advantages

  • completely avoid high international roaming charges for outbound calls if you can find WiFi access
  • app can access iPhone address book
  • using WiFi saves your cellular minutes

TruPhone Disadvantages

  • must have WiFi
  • generally higher long distance charges than Packet8
  • can’t use the speakerphone

Common Disadvantages

  • No inbound calls
  • No SMS support. (Truphone’s 20 cent international SMS plan isn’t
    available on the iPhone app.) AT&T, unsurprisingly, has high
    international text messaging charges – up to 25 cents outbound, and 20
    cents inbound! Their best plan is $10 a month for 100 international
    SMS. (Good thing I can send international SMS using the iPhone AIM
    client! However, it doesn’t look like my international friends can
    respond to the AIM SMS…)

TruPhone recently added a pre-paid bundle for North American numbers
that matches Packet8’s 1.5 cents/min, so the two are equivalent for
calling Canada. Packet8 is by far the lowest for calling China at 1 cent
a minute. Both services have simple billing mechanisms — both only
charge for the calls you make, and neither require a subscription or
monthly fee.

Either will save you tremendously compared to AT&T’s plans to all but a
few countries. As an example, AT&T charges $4 each month for access to
their ‘special’ 19 cent a minute rate to Canada. Using TruPhone or
Packet8, for that same $4, I can call Canada for nearly four and half
hours! AT&T would charge me nearly $88 (+$4) for that same four and a
half hours!

Packet8 Long Distance Charges:
http://mobiletalk.packet8.net/rates.aspx

TruPhone
Long Distance Charges:
http://www.truphone.com/pricing/

AT&T
Roaming Charges:
http://www.wireless.att.com/travelguide/coverage/product_rates_compare.jsp?PIDL=IRSD|IRWT

AT&T
International Long Distance Charges:
http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/international/long-distance/in-the-us.jsp

AT&T
International SMS Charges:
http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/messaging-internet/messaging/international.jsp

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